Happy, healthy feet are vital for a hockey player. Here are a few tips to help your athlete put his or her best foot forward all season long!
• Before your players lace up their skates and hit the ice, make sure their feet are clean and their toenails clipped. Unclipped toenails and even mildly dirty feet can lead to toe pain and foot irritation, including blisters.
• It is best to wear a single pair of winter socks made of Smart Wool®, polypropylene or acrylic fibres. These fibres help wick moisture from perspiration or melting ice away from the feet to help keep them dry.
Properly fitting skates are essential. If skates are too big or too small, pain and discomfort will result. Here are some pointers to follow when buying skates:
• Hockey skates usually fit a half (1/2) size smaller than street shoes.
• When fitting hockey skates, make sure your player wears the same socks he or she will wear when playing.
• Loosen the laces so that the foot can easily slip into the boot, then slide the foot forward so the ends of the toes press against the front of the skate. You should be able to place one finger between the boot and the heel of the foot.
• Before lacing up skates, kick the heel of the foot into the boot's heel by banging the skate against the floor. Now lace the boot, making sure that the first three eyelets are snug, the next three to four eyelets are loose and the last two to four eyelets closest to the top of the boot are very snug. Once skates are laced up, there should be 1-1/2 to 2 inches between the eyelets across the top of the foot. If they are farther apart, a narrower boot is needed. If the eyelets are closer, a wider boot is necessary.
• Now have your hockey player walk in both skates for 10 to 15 minutes to make sure they fit well and do not cause any discomfort. Keep in mind that all skates need a break-in period before they fit just right.
• Once skates are removed, check both feet for red areas or pressure points. These are signs that the skates do not fit properly.
• Blisters: If your hockey player develops a blister, leave it uncovered whenever possible. DO NOT burst the blister! If you have to cover the blister, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water. Apply a loose bandage and fix the bandage with tape. Your child should not wear the shoes or skates or practice the activity that caused the blister until the blister heals. If the blister does not heal or gets worse, see your family physician.
• Corns, calluses, etc.: If corns, calluses, bunions or inflammation develops on feet or ankles, visit your family physician or a podiatrist to help your athlete get back on his or her feet as soon as possible.
Foot problems are preventable but must be treated quickly and properly to ensure your player does not experience any lasting problems and is back on the ice as quickly as possible.